Still, the Beatles drummer says, "I've been doing peace and love for a long time"

By Scott Huver
Updated July 08, 2015 05:30 PM
Credit: Scott Huver

You say it’s your birthday? Happy birthday to ya, Ringo Starr!

To celebrate his 75th birthday on Tuesday, the eternally youthful Beatle drummer returned to a familiar landmark in the group’s history, the famed record-stack-shaped Capitol Records Tower in Hollywood – The Beatles‘ first U.S. label – with friends and family to promote peace and love around the world.

Looking as trim and stylish as ever with his wife Barbara Bach at his side, Starr told PEOPLE the secret to his youthful appearance is relatively simple. “Diet, exercise, and doing what I love to do, which is play drums – I can’t think of anything else I do, and this is how it is.”

Starr said he wasn’t feeling too fazed by reaching the three quarter-century milestone.

“In my head, I’m 24,” he admitted. “I mean, it’s just a fact: I’m 24. And this is where you get to if you live long enough, you know what I mean? But when I was a kid, if someone was 75, you said, ‘What?! Far out!’ It’s not so far out anymore, you know. And here I am. You never think you’re going to get this far. And the days keep passing, and the years keep passing, and now I’m here at 75. And I’m still working. I’m still doing what I love to do. So life is good.”

As has been his annual birthday custom for the past decade, Starr assembles at noon with his family, friends and members of the public wherever he happens to be in the world to ask “everyone everywhere” to think and act on peace and love. Now in the age of social media, Starr shared the gathering live on Periscope from his phone and asked fans to share their own messages and photos with the hashtag #Peaceandlove.

Starr was joined by an eclectic assortment of friends from the entertainment world, including former Eagle Joe Walsh, who’s married to Marjorie Bach, the sister of Starr’s wife.

Long before they were friends and eventually brothers-in-law, Walsh was a fan who attended one of the famed Beatles concerts in Shea Stadium, ” screaming and crying with the rest of the girls.” Eventually, he got to know the down-to-earth side of his idol-turned-pal, whom he called “the minister of peace and love.”

“With what he’s been through, he’s completely down to earth, and he’s really a good guy,” says Walsh. “Getting to know him as a brother in law, we’re really, really good friends. And I value that with him because he gets me, and I get him.”

Other famous friends in attendance included Edgar Winter, drummer Jim Keltner, Guns ‘n’ Roses’ Matt Sorum, music producers Glen Ballard and Giles Martin, comedian Richard Lewis, actors Bud Cort and Ed Begley, Jr. and filmmaker David Lynch, who called Starr “the tastiest drummer in the world.”

Despite his and the Beatles’ association with the peace movement stretching back to the ’60s, Starr said it took a while before he and bandmates John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison began thinking about the fate of the world at large.

“I don’t think we did at the very beginning of my career,” he said with a laugh. “We were punks, and we really didn’t give a damn. But yeah, I’ve been doing peace and love for a long time.” The philosophy’s as important today as it ever was, Starr says. “If we’re hugging and we’re peace and loving, we’re not being violent and we’re not injuring anybody else.”